Isn’t that the quest of every human, the dilemma we all face as we live out our lives on this Earth? How to be great. How to mean something. How to leave a positive mark on the planet. How to be remembered. With the human population ballooning over seven billion people, it seems our society has become more obsessed than ever with making something of themselves. The rise in technology, especially the internet, has completely blown open the door of accessibility. Anyone with an email can create a blog. Anyone with words on a page can self-publish (and I would know). Anyone with a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can promote a service or business. It’s easier than ever to get your voice out there–that’s not the hard part.
The hard part is getting your voice to stick out among the oceans of other voices screaming to be noticed.
Read my blog.
Watch my YouTube video.
Listen to my cover.
Like my selfies.
In a world where eyes stay glued to screens all day and attention spans average about 2.7 seconds–where it seems nearly everyone is shouting ‘look at me!’–the prospect of becoming anything noteworthy becomes a daunting daydream. The fight for an audience is a bloody battle, one that often seems too violent to get involved in.
That fight has never been worth it for me. As an easy to please introvert, I’m more interested in making hermitism (yes, I made that up) socially acceptable than gaining Twitter followers. I am more than comfortable with living out my quiet existence without recognition–greatness has never been a temptation.
Then I discovered I really loved writing. Like, really really loved it. And thus the internal struggle was born.
I don’t have a problem with not being noticed. In fact, I’d rather go unnoticed. The spotlight just isn’t my thing. But now I have stuff to say, stories to tell, ideas to share. Now I have dreams–like ‘New York Times Bestselling Author’ dreams–that I would give anything to have come true. Now I have a BFF (best fictional friend) named Arie and I want the whole entire world to know her because I think she’s fantastic. Writing is a wonderful emotional roller coaster on a personal level, but there is no satisfaction like the kind an audience brings. It’s difficult to fall in love with words without sharing them because you know that words are meant to be shared and read by all.
Unfortunately, I’m finding that hermitism and self-promotion don’t go together very well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to quit the whole show, take my book off the market, and hang up the author dream cape for good. Doubt and fear are nasty beasts, and they loom over me with teeth bared every time I promote on the internet or tell someone about my book. To be honest, if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of my dad, I probably wouldn’t be typing this post right now. His constant stream of support, ideas, and IT assistance is sometimes the only thing propelling me forward on this crazy journey. He sees the vision, the picture of greatness that could be mine. He wants that for me and pushes me to go for it. All I see is a hazy image of a dream too big to come true blocked by countless mountains of fear, doubt, public appearances, talking about myself, and the ultimate destination: failure. My dad asks “What do we need to do to make this happen?” while I ask “Why even try?”
Because it’s utterly terrifying, as I’m sure many of you know. Great people make greatness look easy, effortless, and sometimes even fun. It’s not. It’s grueling, scary, exhausting, and seems utterly impossible. At the end of the day, dejected and hopeless, I feel the need to go back to accepting average and leaving the greatness to those who know how to do it. Greatness just isn’t for me.
And then I walk into a Barnes and Noble, look at the featured authors, and the intense yearning comes over me. I get fired up again. I see the vision. I recommit to the doomed effort. I glance down the aisles of recognized writers and think “someday that has to be me.”
And thus the internal struggle continues.
So, what does it take to be great? I wouldn’t know. Smarts? Guts? An expanded network? A rich uncle?* The right shoes? I’m guessing probably a mix of all that, including an element of insanity.
If you haven’t noticed already, I’m quite the amateur at this whole thing. I’m learning. I’m failing. I’m trying. I guess we’ll just see what happens. That’s supposed to be part of the fun, right?
So to all of you out there like me–writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, actors, or any average person trying to make something of themselves–you’re not alone. Don’t give up! Keep fighting for that dream, that vision, that greatness that you hope to achieve. But if you’re ever discouraged and thinking of quitting, come find me. We’ll sit in a corner together with chocolate and blankets while blasting Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and staring at motivational cat posters until we can find it in ourselves to carry on.
Because, as Marianne Williamson so eloquently puts it, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
*JRK, I’m lookin’ at you